THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced that it has delayed the date of the canal toll increases from July to October and again in October 2013 after protests from shipowners and a 30-day consultation period.
In April, the canal authority announced its intention to increase tolls to bring them closer to the value of the route for certain market segments and to redefine some segments for price adjustments.
But in May, there were protests from the industry. The Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF), supported by the Japanese Shipowners’ Association (JSA), condemned the increases, saying that they were made without consultation and at a time when the industry could least afford them.
“Under the current economic situation, the newly proposed toll increase would be detrimental to the shipping industry,” said the ASF statement, which was separately issued by the JSA.
On reflection, the canal authority declared: “At the request of the industry, implementation of the new charges has been postponed from July to October, giving the industry additional time before implementation.”
In addition, the revised proposal eliminates the proposed container/breakbulk segment. Container/breakbulk vessels will continue to be classified as part of the segment known as others.
The ACP said the revised tolls adjustment will apply only to the following market segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro and the segment known as others. Due to this modification, the authority is reopening the issue for public comment and will consider additional input, suggestions and feedback from interested parties until the middle of next month.
“The Panama Canal is the only organisation in the shipping industry that consults with customers and interested parties prior to implementing any modification to its pricing structure. This open and transparent process has given the ACP an opportunity to listen to the needs of its customers and to adjust its proposal accordingly,” said ACP administrator and chief executive Alberto Aleman Zubieta.
Starting October 1 and again on October 1 in 2013, the ACP proposes to increase the tolls for the following segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, and the segment known as others. The remaining segments – container, reefer and passenger – will not be adjusted at this time, nor will the price per TEU for containers carried onboard a vessel. Additionally, there will be changes to tolls applicable to small vessels based on vessel length, and to incorporate adjustments not previously considered.